German in Advertisement and Marketing

German in Advertisement and Marketing
German in Advertisement and Marketing

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As globalization and internationalization have been shaping advertising strategies, we have also witnessed a transformation in language preferences. From the stigma of “Denglish” to a symbol of cultural self-confidence, the use of German in advertisements has undergone a remarkable shift.

Major brands reflect this change and reveal a newfound appreciation for the German language in the context of reliability, efficiency, and ecological thinking. Let’s explore the landscape of advertising in Germany and discover how brands have adapted their language strategies to resonate with modern audiences.

Which Language Sells?

English is the language of advertisement and marketing and it is also often used by German companies to address international customers (or at least to pretend to do so). In the early past, German companies advertised their products with German phrases. The reasons were simple: It was the language of the customers. But with globalization and internationalization, they did not only become more global, but the companies and marketers also thought that the ads must be international.

When TV advertisements became more and more common in the 1980s and 1990s, it was almost unthinkable for advertisers to use the German language. It just had the stigma of being stale and not cool. The times luckily have changed and in recent years German has become rather common in public advertisement – not only in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Advertisement in the Past

In many cases in the past, public relation agencies did not only use the English language but sometimes even abused it. They mixed it with German words, made new English words up or just translated German phrases into English.

The result was often just embarrassing. The reasons why a wrong English term would be better than a right German one has been common sense for a long time: the “awful German language” – like Mark Twain would say – has not only a harsh sound but also some very long words.

Recent Change in Perception

However, companies in various industries have recently shifted back to using German for several reasons. This shift reflects a growing cultural self-confidence and a desire to curb the rapid proliferation of “Denglish,” the term coined for anglicized German. For instance, retailer C&A transitioned from “Fashion For Living” to “Preise Gut, Alles Gut” (The Price Is Right, Everything Is Right), and McDonald’s changed its advertising campaign from “Every Time a Good Time” to “Ich Liebe Es” (I’m Lovin’ It), showcasing this trend in language preference.

The Times are Changing in Advertisement

But what has once been the reason why German was considered as unsuitable for advertising products for young and modern customers, it has become a symbol of reliability, efficiency, and especially in the last few years, ecological thinking. Not only has the so-called “Energiewende” led to the last mentioned, but also the fact that many new German products came up that see themselves as the counterpart to the established, often American companies.

That’s why you would rather have a Club Mate or a Fritz Kola in a stylish bar in Berlin than a regular Coke. With that development, also the advertisers view on Germany and the German language has changed and also the Germans seem to have become more and more at peace with themselves over the last decade.

Also, others see the country in a new light: Just take a look at Berlin as the new place to be for all the creative young people from New York to Tel Aviv. Besides all that: Puns and jokes are just much funnier and also understandable when you tell them in your own tongue.

The New Self-perception of German Companies

But not only in matters of consumption, (self-) perception changed. Particularly in one of Germany’s biggest industry – the automotive industry – companies like BWM or Volkswagen realized what makes their products attractive to foreign drivers: Reliability, quality, and technology. Those attributes are also a common cliché about Germany itself and that’s why they also started to rethink their public appearance as German companies by displaying it also by language.

The well-known slogan by Audi “Vorsprung durch Technik” just was the beginning. Other companies followed, often also ironically portraying the cliché of the “boring” German (like VW did in those ads). German nowadays is not the unpleasant sound of clicking heels anymore, but has become a symbol of progress and reliability – and in some cases even of self-mockery.

Consumer Profile

According to Eurostat’s 2021 data, Germany boasts the third oldest population globally, with a median age of 45.9. Notably, there has been an aging trend, as the median age was 44.3 in 2010. The population saw a modest increase of 50,000 (+0.06%) between 2021 and 2022. The age distribution reveals that 13.8% of Germans are under 15 years old, 64.2% fall between 15 and 64 years, and 22% are over 65 years old.

On average, households consist of two people, with 39.7% being individuals living alone, predominantly women (Eurostat). The Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) anticipates a rise in one-person households. The population is almost evenly split by gender, with 49.5% men and 50.5% women (Data Reportal, 2022). Approximately 13.7% of the German population is foreign-born, and a significant 77.6% resides in urban areas, with Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne being the most populous cities (CIA).

Germany boasts one of the highest levels of education globally, with 86% of individuals aged 25 to 64 having completed upper secondary education, surpassing the OECD average of 79%. Additionally, 48.1% of upper secondary students are enrolled in vocational programs, surpassing the OECD average of 42.5%.

In terms of employment, the active population is diversified, with 21.5% working as professionals, 20.9% as technicians, 13.2% in service and sales roles, 13.2% as clerical support workers, 11.6% as craft workers, 7.1% in elementary occupations, 5.9% as plant and machine operators, 4% in managerial positions, and 1.2% as agricultural workers (Eurostat, 2021). (Interested in working in Germany yourself? Check out our guide).

Consumer Behavior in Germany

Statistics show that prior to making a purchase, consumers prioritize gathering extensive information about various aspects, including price, features, and origin of products. Studies indicate that German consumers rank among the most discerning globally, with some being willing to pay a premium for higher-quality goods.

Despite a dip during the Covid-19 pandemic, consumer confidence rebounded in 2021, attributed to declining infection rates and eased restrictions (HDE). However, confidence declined again in 2022 due to the context of the war in Ukraine.

Online shopping has become ingrained in German consumer habits, positioning the country as Europe’s largest online market. The digitalization trend accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. While Germans display openness to international products, preferences sometimes lean towards local, national, or European offerings.

Brand loyalty is significant, particularly when associated with quality, with approximately 60% of the population willing to repeatedly purchase the same brand. Social networks serve as valuable sources for product information and discovery, yet concerns about data collection often lead Germans to adopt a more passive approach to social media usage.

New Markets Focused on Sustainability

Environmental consciousness is prevalent among German consumers, influencing consumption patterns towards organic, vegan, and energy-efficient products. Additionally, a preference for local goods exists, with some consumers willing to pay a premium for such products.

The second-hand market is widespread, particularly in major cities, driven by economic, ecological, and social considerations. This is evident in purchases from thrift stores, second-hand shops, and online exchanges. The collaborative economy is well-established, encompassing platforms for ride-sharing, apartment rentals, and carpooling.

Leading Brands Ranked by Advertising Expenditure

In April 2023, the leading advertisers in Germany, ranked by advertising expenditure in million euros, were as follows:

  1. Procter & Gamble: 94.53 million euros
  2. Lidl: 66.83 million euros
  3. Aldi (Gesamt): 29.69 million euros
  4. Edeka: 23.7 million euros
  5. McDonald’s: 21.09 million euros
  6. Rewe: 20.55 million euros
  7. L’Oréal: 19.89 million euros
  8. Ferrero: 18.93 million euros
  9. Kaufland: 17.77 million euros
  10. Telekom: 17.37 million euros

These figures and statistics represent the share of advertising expenditures of these top advertisers during the specified period.

Top Ads

Let’s also take a closer look at some recent top ads in Germany and explore how innovative and impactful campaigns develop their concepts to capture the attention of audiences.

  1. Nikon: The Golden Billboard
    • Type: Ambient
    • Date: December 14, 2023
    • Description: Nikon and Mediaplus transformed traditional outdoor advertising spaces into an innovative photographic studio during the Photopia fair in Hamburg. The ‘Golden Billboard’ activation showcased Nikon’s capabilities to capture ideal lighting in any location.
  2. Laut gegen Nazis e.V.: Rights Against The Right
    • Type: Interactive
    • Date: December 04, 2023
    • Description: In collaboration with Laut gegen Nazis, this initiative aimed to outsmart Nazis by securing their codes through trademark law. By obtaining trademark rights for Nazi codes, the campaign legally compelled Nazi shops to remove and destroy merchandise bearing these codes.
  3. Milka: Just The Two Of Us
    • Type: TV
    • Date: November 22, 2023
    • Description: As part of an integrated Christmas campaign, Milka’s ‘Just The Two Of Us’ film directed by Duncan Christie highlights a heartwarming story of selfless sacrifice, celebrating the festive ethos of tenderness.
  4. Vodafone: Last Chance
    • Type: TV
    • Date: November 22, 2023
    • Description: Antoni Berlin and Anorak Films collaborated with PAGE Portugal for Vodafone’s ‘Last Chance’ campaign. The film, set in a bustling subway station, tells a modern-day love story fueled by the capabilities of Vodafone’s super-fast 5G network.
  5. Penny: The Kids
    • Type: TV
    • Date: November 19, 2023
    • Description: PENNY’s ‘The Kids’ campaign addresses pressing issues like climate change and societal division, amplifying the voices of children. The initiative aims to make the younger generation’s opinions and wishes heard.
  6. Opel: Yes Of Corsa
    • Type: TV
    • Date: October 18, 2023
    • Description: Opel’s Europe-wide 360-degree campaign promotes the new Corsa, dispelling doubts about switching to a fully electric car. The campaign showcases the car’s features and technologies.
  7. Manscaped: Moments
    • Type: TV
    • Date: September 13, 2023
    • Description: Innocean Berlin’s irreverent campaign for MANSCAPED hijacks key football moments to remind men to take care of their beards, emphasizing the global men’s grooming brand.
  8. Allianz: The Squared Ball
    • Type: TV
    • Date: August 29, 2023
    • Description: Allianz’s Women’s World Cup season campaign reconfigures the soccer ball into a squared shape to tangibly demonstrate the inequalities women face in the sport.
  9. Hornbach: Every Square Metre Deserves to be the Best in the World
    • Type: TV
    • Date: August 24, 2023
    • Description: HORNBACH’s Autumn campaign centers on the square meter, conveying the message that every square meter deserves to be the best in the world.
  10. Bugatti: Transformative Journey
    • Type: Interactive
    • Date: August 15, 2023
    • Description: BBDO Germany’s holistic approach to custom-building Bugatti’s website reflects the brand’s engineering excellence and expanding lifestyle sphere.

Each campaign tells a unique story, reflecting the dynamic landscape of leader brand marketing in the country. We can see that visuals and images also play a pivotal role alongside language, serving as visual storytellers that enhance and complement linguistic messages, creating a more compelling and memorable brand narrative for consumers.


Here are some of the questions people ask about advertising in Germany.

What is the difference between German and American advertising?

In general, German advertising tends to be more subtle and focused on product features, while American advertising often emphasizes storytelling and emotional appeal. Germans value straightforwardness and accuracy in ads, whereas Americans may prioritize creativity and entertainment.

What is the most popular form of advertising in Germany?

Television advertising remains a dominant force in Germany, with a significant portion of the population relying on traditional TV channels. However, digital advertising, especially on social media platforms, is rapidly gaining popularity, reflecting global trends in media consumption.

What advertising methods does Germany use?

Germany employs a diverse range of advertising methods, including TV and radio commercials, print media, online marketing, social media campaigns, and outdoor advertising. Influencer marketing is also on the rise as a powerful tool to reach targeted audiences.

Why do I get ads in German?

If you’re receiving ads in German, it’s likely because your online behavior or settings indicate an association with German-language content or location. Advertisers use algorithms and user data to target specific demographics or regions, tailoring ads to what they believe aligns with your interests.

What was the most popular commercial?

Historically, some iconic German commercials include those from brands like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Aldi. Popularity often depends on cultural relevance and the effectiveness of the advertising strategy.

What are the rules for advertising in Germany?

Germany has strict regulations for advertising to ensure transparency and protect consumers. Advertisers must adhere to guidelines regarding truthfulness, fairness, and the prohibition of misleading practices.

Specific rules also govern areas such as comparative advertising, tobacco, and alcohol promotion. Advertisers need to comply with these regulations to avoid legal consequences.

Summing Up: German in Advertisement and Marketing

In conclusion, the linguistic journey in German advertising reflects a profound shift in cultural self-perception and global positioning. The resurgence of German in top ads marks a departure from traditional norms, emphasizing authenticity and cultural identity. As companies realign with their linguistic roots, they reshape consumer perceptions.

Beyond language, the article touched upon services, exploring the evolving consumer behavior landscape. The focus on top ads, services, and company strategies unveils a dynamic marketing terrain.

Images crafted through innovative campaigns and the ranking of leading advertisers contribute to a nuanced understanding of how language choices influence brand narratives and consumer connections in the vibrant German market. If you’d like to learn more about German culture, come check us out on our blog!